‘Super Blood Moon’ Lunar Eclipse visible Sunday Night, September 27th
‘Super Blood Moon’ lunar eclipse will be visible Sunday Night, September 27th
‘Super Blood Moon’. The name alone sounds ominous. It could easily be the title of a cheesy sci-fi B movie or a song by an 80’s post-punk band. In actuality, a Super Blood Moon eclipse is a rare astronomical phenomenon that will produce a moon that can appear bigger than usual and have a reddish color, hence the “Blood Moon” nickname. A super moon occurs when the moon is in its orbit that is closest to Earth, making it appear only about 7% larger.
As our Editor pointed out earlier this month, in truth, that difference in perceived size is not discernible by the naked eye. Still, psychologists postulate that we perceive it to actually be larger due to a phenomena called the ‘Ebbinghaus Illusion’ in which we perceive objects to look bigger than their relative open surroundings.
Super Rare Event
A ‘Super Blood Moon’ eclipse hasn’t occurred since 1982, and won’t again return to its full bloody glory until 2033. The ‘Super Blood Moon’ is expected to be visible throughout most of North America, especially for those on the east coast. According to the Amateur Astronomers Association, the eclipse will begin at 9:07 PM Eastern Standard Time and the shadow of the Earth will creep across the Moon until 10:11 PM, when the entire Moon will be in its shadow.
During the eclipse, the Moon will likely take on a deep red hue as a result of the scattering of light from the Sun as it passes through the Earth’s atmosphere and lands on the Moon. In physics, this optical phenomenon is known as ‘rayleigh scattering‘ and, in layman’s terms, it means that red light passes more easily through Earth’s atmosphere. Because of this prismatic cause and effect, technically all lunar eclipses that occur within the umbra of Earth’s shadow produce a ‘blood’ moon. You can also view a red ‘blood’ moon on almost any given evening or very early morning at the right time because the moon can appear red when it’s closer to the horizon during both moonrise and moonset. This occurs as light reflected from the moon is scattered and passes through more of Earth’s atmosphere.
Tonight’s eclipse will end at 12:27 AM, when the entire moon will once again be illuminated by the Sun and the ‘Super Blood Moon’ will go into another semi-retirement.
Celebratory Occasion or The Apocalypse?
Despite the ravings of the usual crowd of prophets who are predicting that the end of the world will coincide with this magnificent event, scientists assure us that the Super Blood Moon is nothing to fear. For many, it is seen as a globally unifying occasion and a reason to celebrate. Though skygazers will be able to see it with the naked eye, eclipse viewing parties offering binoculars and telescopes are being held at museums, observatories, and National Parks throughout the country.
Can’t catch it in person? Not to worry. NASA will be streaming the eclipse live on their website along with a web chat that will start just before the eclipse begins.
“You’re basically seeing all of the sunrises and sunsets across the world, all at once, being reflected off the surface of the moon,” said Dr. Sarah Noble, a program scientist at NASA.
Programs! Get Your ‘Super Blood Moon’ Programs Here!
For a more in-depth analysis of the Super Blood Moon and the many myths surrounding it, check out September’s ‘Blood Moon’: What You Need To Know (AKA “Survival Guide” to some)—a “Super Blood Moon Program” of sorts by Dark Matter News editor Haunted Skeptic.
Take a good picture of the ‘Super Blood Moon’? Did anything bizarre happen to you during the eclipse? Share it on our Facebook page and join the discussion on Twitter using #DMtalk.